NATHAN CHAN/THE VARSITY

U of T is warning of potential exposure to asbestos in the Medical Sciences Building after “unusual dust” was reported during renovations in the building.

Trevor Young, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine, sent out a notice to all Physiology graduate students and postdocs via email. In addition, the University of Toronto Graduate Students’ Union (UTGSU) disseminated information about asbestos.

The university has been undertaking the $189.9 million Lab Innovation for Toronto (LIFT) project, which aims to make various improvements to laboratory infrastructure on campus.

In November 2016, the university began “asbestos abatement and demolition on five separate sites” within the building.

According to Young, there were reports of “unusual dust” in early February in the sixth-floor lab located at room 6360, which was across from the construction site.

“Immediately upon notification, U of T’s Hazardous Construction Materials Group and [U of T Environmental Health & Safety (EHS)] were advised, attended, took samples and closed the lab,” Young wrote. “Test results February 1 confirmed asbestos in the dust; the lab and its contents were then cleaned, and the labs were cleared for re-occupancy within days.”

EHS also cleaned and cleared two other labs for re-occupancy located at rooms 7366 and 7368. These labs were connected to room 6360 and it was found that they also had asbestos-containing dust.

On February 24, “unusual dust” was also reported at lab 6334, which was located in an area “completely unconnected to the first incident.” Asbestos was also present in the February 24 dust samples.

After the university cleaned and cleared the lab for reoccupancy, dust reappeared there and “it and two lab support rooms were closed on March 7 while further testing was conducted.”

Young states that a third-party contractor continues to sample the air quality, working on one floor per day.

“One lab remains closed; once we are notified by EHS that the space has been inspected and cleared for occupancy, we will let you know,” wrote Young.

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